The Buffalo Bills may have dropped the biggest running back news of day one when they signed 35-year-old Frank Gore to join the oldest backfield in the NFL, but they might not be done at the position. The team may have a bigger target in mind, as ESPN’s Josina Anderson reports that the Bills are one of six teams who have “a good likelihood” of signing star running back Le’Veon Bell to a contract Tuesday. The other teams on her list: the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, and Houston Texans.
Bell, 27, is in the prime of his career (and just took a season of rest while embroiled in a contract dispute). From the last two seasons he played, Bell averaged 1200 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 80 receptions, 600 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns.
When he entered his holdout with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell reportedly wanted $17 million per year on a contract, with $45 million guaranteed. That’s a major price tag for any position (the four players Buffalo signed Monday didn’t combine for that much guaranteed money), but especially at running back where most players are ready to retire by age 30. Having started free agency with the fourth-most room under the salary cap, though, the Bills definitely have the means to sign Bell, if they really wanted.
Bell’s dual-threat nature and pass-protecting skills would make him an excellent scheme fit for the team’s Erhardt-Perkins offense and a super complement for second-year quarterback Josh Allen. If he joins the team, though, what does it mean for LeSean McCoy? Is there really room for three of the biggest names at the position on one team? If nothing else, releasing McCoy would save $6.425 million from the final year of his contract, helping to justify Bell’s expense.
For now, though, it’s still tough to judge how serious Buffalo’s plans are. With action reported “today” though, the landscape may change rapidly.